Show Your Stripes: The Pinnacle of Climate Communication
July 10th 2023
June saw temperature records broken in China; extreme heatwaves in the USA; forest fires in Canada; and extreme heat in India, Spain, Iran and Vietnam. Also, ocean sea surface temperatures reached record highs and forecasts suggest that by October the Pacific and Indian Oceans could be 3 degrees Celsius warmer than normal.
With the World Meteorological Organization announcing that there is a 66% chance of a year between now and 2027 maintaining a global temperature anomaly in excess of 1.5 degrees Celsius, it is clear the extreme weather we are already seeing is not enough to spur on enough climate action.
This shows the importance of effective climate communication and movements such as Show Your Stripes.
With the misinformation and barriers to understanding that surround climate science, the importance of accurately relaying information on environmental issues in an accessible way is vital. The field of climate communication focuses on this very issue.
Research first began in the 1990s and the primary focus is on raising public knowledge and awareness, as well as bringing about more engagement and action. One of the most influential areas of climate communication is visualisation which includes graphics such as the warming stripes and climate spiral.
The Warming Stripes
The warming stripes were created by Ed Hawkins, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading, in 2018 and was a lead author for the IPCC 6th Assessment Report.
The graphic utilises the annual average temperature anomaly for each year from 1850 to 2022 and through a blue-red colour scale shows the transition from colder-than-normal years to hotter-than-normal years.
Similar to what was accomplished by Ed Hawkins, a partner project, created by Miles Richardson – a professor of human factors and nature connectedness at the University of Derby, shows the decline (69%) in global biodiversity over the period 1970-2018 through a series of green to grey stripes.
Show Your Stripes
Since its creation, the ‘Show Your Stripes’ movement began in 2019, which encourages people to post their region’s warming stripes to raise awareness and, hopefully, inspire action. You can download your region’s graphic here.
By virtue of the movement, warming stripes have featured on everything from clothing to vehicles, murals, and even front covers. Some major examples include being:
presented on Reading Football Club’s home kit;
projected onto the Climate Change Observatory in Valencia;
used as a stage backdrop at the 2022 Glastonbury Festival; and
featuring on newspaper and book front covers (see The Economist, The Guardian, and Greta Thunberg’s The Climate Book).
Show Your Stripes Day 2023
Some of the highlights from this year’s Show Your Stripes Day included projections of climate stripes onto many famous landmarks. These ranged from the White Cliffs of Dover and Tate Modern chimney to the CN Tower in Toronto and Times Square, New York City.
Reading was a hotspot for events with local landmarks such as the Abbey Ruins and many university buildings being illuminated with the colours of the climate stripes. Additionally, Reading FC hosted a workshop and educational event for schoolchildren from Reading and Wokingham and the day was also chosen as Let’s Go Zero’s national school day of action.
Raising awareness of the issue of global warming is vital in the effort to see more climate action taken. From campaigns like this, the hope is more people will try and help the environment either directly via initiatives such as conservation work or indirectly by reducing/changing consumption habits.
One way you can help make a tangible difference is by getting involved in a project at WorkingAbroad, which hosts conservation efforts all over the world ranging from wildlife rehabilitation in Peru to kiwi conservation in New Zealand.